"All right then, would you like to do the honors, little bit?"
Parker nodded more vigorously.
Ren sank down on one knee and stood Parker before him. "You can talk to me, Parker. Any time. I’m in no hurry and there’s no sound more precious to me than your voice. So you don’t worry about how you sound, okay?"
"I love you, Papa."
Ren kissed him on the cheek, then took the torch from Kateri’s hand. He held it out for Parker. "Be careful. Don’t get hurt."
Parker ran to the lines they had drawn in the desert and lit them. The flames roared across their massive drawing that made the Nasca lines in Peru look paltry. Burning even higher and brighter as they spread, the fire lit up the entire desert region. And those flames danced and played with colors in Kateri’s fire opal necklace. Since they’d retrieved it that night in the cave, she had never taken it off again.
Ren draped his arm around her shoulders. With his entire family gathered around him, he looked up at the sky and waited.
Within a few minutes, they saw the comet as it flew over their heads.
"Wave, everyone!" Kateri shouted. "Let your grandmother know how much we love her, and how grateful we are for her son."
Teri, their eight-year-old granddaughter, looked at her with wide eyes. "Do you think she sees us, Elisi?"
Ren swung her up on his shoulder. "Yes, I do, sogainisi. I think we built a monument in her honor so large, even the Martians see it."
It was an eight-mile-long thunderbird with a hummingbird under its wing-not because it was being protected by the thunderbird. It was there because it was the wind that carried the thunderbird to the heavens.
And in the center of the thunderbird, with the help of Acheron and Tory, they had written in ancient Greek-S’agapo. I love you.
He hoped his mother saw it as she passed over, and knew that he was still here, and that though they had never met, he was grateful to her for the life she had given him.
Teri sighed as he set her back on her feet. "There are no Martians, Papa. Scientists debunked that theory a very long time ago."
Exchanging a laugh with Kateri, he grinned. "I swear there are some traits that have to be genetic, no matter what they say."
Kateri gave him the sweetest kiss, and hugged him tight. "So tell me, baby. Was Sundown right about us?"
He glanced around at their four sons and three daughters, their spouses, and the twenty grandchildren they already had, and the one that would be born this fall who was being carried by their youngest son’s wife. "Yes, he was. But it’s you I have to thank."
"Sharing a life with me, and making it so that even the worst days I have now are still the best days I’ve ever known."